COVID-19 SITREP: Where are as we transition into 2022?

By Dr. Michael Jacobson, D.O., M.P.H., CHM Medical Director

*Editor’s note: To learn more about COVID-19 and CHM, view our resources here.

The last time I focused an article on COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) was May 2020! Although much has changed since then, much, unfortunately, remains the same.

Over the nearly two-year period, this pandemic has rocked the globe like nothing we've ever seen. As of this writing, total cases have exceeded 308.5 million and deaths 5.5 million, with 90 percent of those infected recovered. Particularly alarming is a graphical representation of the new case rate, which shows that the globe is currently experiencing a spike that is over three times the height of the three spikes seen in the last two years.

The USA leads the way with the most cases at over 61.7 million, followed by India and Brazil. Countries with populations of at least 10 million and with the highest percentage of their people infected are led by Czechia (24 percent infected), followed by the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the USA (nearly 19 percent infected).

Seven-day moving average (Source: Worldometers)

In the US, the current seven-day new case rate has skyrocketed in the last few weeks, averaging over 761,000. The CDC considers the current transmission rate (contagiousness) to be at the highest possible level in 99 percent of US counties. Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are getting hit the hardest, followed by Florida, Delaware, Connecticut and Utah. The states with the lowest (albeit still high) rates of infection are Idaho, Maine, and Montana.

In the US, the case fatality rate is 1.6 percent, below the global average of 2 percent. However, the CDC projects that deaths in the US will steadily continue to climb in early 2022.

63 percent of all Americans have been fully vaccinated, 67 percent of those above 4 years of age. Even with the Omicron variant, unvaccinated Americans are nearly five times more likely to catch COVID-19, and 13 times more likely to die if infected.

Compared to the original SARS-CoV-2, the Delta variant, first identified in India, appears to be more infectious and spread more rapidly. It's able to infect those who have been fully vaccinated (who can then spread it to others); however, vaccines still appear to reduce the severity of illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Although it's too early to tell, the Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa and now in the US, appears to spread more easily than even the Delta variant—and is expected to behave similarly. The CDC estimates that 95 percent of new cases in the US are caused by the new Omicron variant.



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